Monday, July 30, 2018

Interview with Beth Harbison, Author of Every Time You Go Away + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome Beth Harbison to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of Every Time You Go Away from St. Martin's Press, a MacMillan imprint!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Beth! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Beth Harbison was born in the shadow of Washington, DC and grew up in the suburbs of that city. She began writing in 4th grade at St. Bartholomew's school, where she re-wrote the ending of Black Beauty, bringing all of the horses back to live in 64 handwritten pages. At that time it should have occurred to someone that she should be writing fiction or soap operas, but instead her first job was at Roy Rogers. 

After failing out of seventh grade, she was sent to a school for rotten kids in Potomac, Maryland, where she met some of her best friends and had experiences she has drawn on again and again in her work.

 Her publishing career began with cookbooks, then moved to Silhouette romance novels, before Jennifer Enderlin, of St. Martin's Press, plucked her out of obscurity and tapped her to write Shoe Addicts Anonymous, which put her on the New York Times bestseller list for the first time and has been optioned by Galgos Entertainment as a feature film starring Halle Berry. 

Today, Beth writes from her home in the DC suburbs, where she lives with her son, and her daughter, YA author Paige Harbison. 

She is still firmly against dead horses.

It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves last week:

In New York Times bestselling author Beth Harbison's most emotional novel ever, a fractured family must come together at a beach house haunted by the past.

Willa has never fully recovered from the sudden death of her husband, Ben. She became an absent mother to her young son, Jamie, unable to comfort him while reeling from her own grief.

Now, years after Ben’s death, Willa finally decides to return to the beach house where he passed. It’s time to move on and put the Ocean City, Maryland house on the market.

When Willa arrives, the house is in worse shape than she could have imagined, and the memories of her time with Ben are overwhelming. They met at this house and she sees him around every corner. Literally. Ben’s ghost keeps reappearing, trying to start conversations with Willa. And she can’t help talking back.

To protect her sanity, Willa enlists Jamie, her best friend Kristin, and Kristin’s daughter Kelsey to join her for one last summer at the beach. As they explore their old haunts, buried feelings come to the surface, Jamie and Kelsey rekindle their childhood friendship, and Willa searches for the chance to finally say goodbye to her husband and to reconnect with her son.

Every Time You Go Away is a heartfelt, emotional story about healing a tragic loss, letting go, and coming together as a family.

As a huge fan of first lines, I’d love to hear the first line of Every Time You Go Away. Could you give us a brief commentary on it?

The first line is: “I can tell you exactly when I lost my will to live.”

Now that I think about it, that is a theme I really like to explore: not depression, per se, but the determination and path out of it. And so in this book, Willa lost her faith in ‘life being fair’ and her hope of ever finding happiness again when her husband died unexpectedly at 36. The book is about her finally coming to terms with that—with some help from the man himself—and moving forward before she has given up too much... too much time, too much life force, too many years.


Tell us about your road to publication, such as how you first queried, unexpected challenges, and things you picked up along the way.

It’s been a really long time now, but I began trying to write in earnest when Silhouette came out with a line called Silhouette Shadows. The PR for it cited many of the old gothic romances I had read and loved growing up; the very books that made me first think about becoming a writer. I wrote a ghost story called The House on Church Street. My opening won a Harlequin “Voices of Tomorrow... Today” contest, which was quite encouraging. Alas, that book did not get published but an editor liked my voice enough to encourage me to keep submitting, so I found myself trying to write a traditional series romance. For me, that was a challenge as I did not read them and thought I wasn’t interested in them. They turned out to be quite fun to write, though—they were like Hallmark romances, very fanciful and comforting.

Probably the most important thing I picked up along the way was to listen to editorial feedback, do what is suggested and RE-SUBMIT (assuming they’re open to it). It can be disheartening, but, as my sister said to me, “You haven’t failed unless you quit."


Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life? If not/And, how much else of your actual life gets written into your fiction?  

Well, my husband did pass away unexpectedly, although at that point we had been separated for 10 months, but when I wrote about Willa’s memories of time and memories shared with her husband, and the horrible inability to ever truly reconcile things once someone has died, it was certainly based on feelings I’ve had myself. I guess I do that a lot in my books: any time a strong feeling is needed, I need to either be able to retrieve it or relate to it enough to really dive in and “feel” it when I’m writing.

I'm so sorry for your loss. The magic of writing is that you can continue your story through your fictional experiences on paper! Out of all the fantastic books out there, what makes Every Time You Go Away stand out from the rest?

Hopefully most books stand out from the rest, at least in some way. I’m not sure I’m objective enough to give much of an answer except for the bare facts: it’s about a literal ghost and how he helps his wife to move on.

Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

It can be a long road with a lot of soul-crushing rejection along the way. I mean a LOT. I’d say to listen to editorial feedback, do your best to hear it and either follow instruction or - if you don’t like the suggestions—find a workaround. Try, try again. And don’t just give up and settle for a sub-par vanity publisher; work with a publisher who believes in you and supports your work.

Now give us your best personal advice—something you wish you had known when you were younger and would offer to your own kids.

Don’t stay in ANY relationship that makes you feel more bad than good. The most obvious example would be a romantic relationship but it doesn’t stop there: if you have a friend who cuts you down, whatever their personal motivations, avoid them. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter or whatever and someone on your list is constantly posting things that make you uncomfortable or argumentative, mute them. Life is too short to feel the constant strife and conflict that seems, more and more, to define modern life. Our bodies and minds can’t take it—we weren’t built to handle negativity on such a grand scale as life affords us today. Relax!

Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Beth! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of Every Time You Go Awaywoohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
If you could change one thing about your appearance, what would it be?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Beth and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the publisher—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at St. Martin's Press!
Giveaway ends August 13th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US residents only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar on the right for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Shattered Silence by Marta Perry + Giveaway (US/Can)

Shattered Silence (Echo Falls #3)
Marta Perry
from HQN // Harlequin

A woman on the run seeks sanctuary in a peaceful Pennsylvania Dutch community—and finds a protector in the most unlikely of men...

One moment Rachel Hartline is secure in her career and community. The next, she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time—watching her ex-husband commit a crime that puts her in unfathomable danger. Fear and hurt send her home to an Amish farm and the family she’s always trusted. But a private investigator is close behind—and he may be a threat to her in more ways than one...

Cold, calculating Clint Mordan isn’t convinced Rachel is as innocent in her ex-husband’s schemes as she claims, but when her ex’s enemies target Rachel, Clint is driven to keep her safe. Maybe the terror in her beautiful eyes and the target on her back aren’t an act. But as his feelings toward her deepen, Clint realizes he’s the only one who can keep Rachel alive in a game where only the killer knows the stakes.

Friday, July 13, 2018

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza Giveaway (US only)

A Place for Us
Fatima Farheen Mirza
from SJP for Hogarth // Penguin Random House

The first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, A Place for Us is a deeply moving and resonant story of love, identity and belonging

As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made.

There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride.

What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best?

A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children—each in their own way—tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.

A Place for Us is a book for our times: an astonishingly tender-hearted novel of identity and belonging, and a resonant portrait of what it means to be an American family today. It announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.

About the Author


Fatima Farheen Mirza was born in 1991 and raised in California. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship.


A Place for Us is her debut novel.




Giveaway!

Books à la Mode is giving away a print copy of A Place for Us—yay!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
What is your least favorite emotion?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Fatima and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I hate being angry; whenever I feel deep rage, I feel like I have no control over myself. I like to avoid situations that make me angry, and a lot of it is just maintaining the mindset that most things that conjure those negative thoughts and emotions are usually trivial and not worth the stress. I would take sadness, boredom, disgust, etc. over anger any day.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and SJP for Hogarth!
Giveaway ends July 27th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Echo Moon by Laura Spinella: Autographed Copy Giveaway (US only)

Echo Moon (Ghost Gifts #3)
Laura Spinella
from Montlake Romance // Amazon

A past life, a past war, and a past love. Peter St. John can’t foresee a future until he confronts his past sins.

When photojournalist Peter St. John returns home after a two-year absence, the life he’s been running from catches up. For years his mother’s presence, coupled with Pete’s own psychic gift, has triggered visits to 1917. There, he relives battles of the Great War, captures the heyday of Coney Island on canvas, and falls in love with an enchanting and enigmatic songstress named Esme. Present-day Pete still pines for Esme, and his love endures…but so does his vivid memory of killing her.

When he discovers family heirlooms that serve as proof of his crimes, Pete will have to finally confront his former life. He also meets a young woman—who is more than what she seems—with a curious connection to his family. As century-old secrets unravel, can Pete reconcile a murder from his past before it destroys his future?

About the Author


Laura Spinella is the author of the Ghost Gifts trilogy—including Echo Moon, Foretold, and the #1 Kindle bestseller Ghost Gifts—as well as the highly acclaimed Unstrung and the award-winning novel Beautiful Disaster. She is a two-time RITA finalist who consistently receives reader and industry praise for her multifaceted characters, emotional complexity, and intriguing story lines.

Spinella lives with her family near Boston, where she can always be found writing her next novel. She enjoys hearing from readers and chatting with book clubs.



Giveaway!

Books à la Mode is giving away a print copy of Echo Moon autographed by the author—yay!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me in the comments below:
Would you like to be famous? In what way?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Laura and I really want to hear from you guys! :)

I'd like to be recognized for my accomplishments (personal or professional) but I don't think fame in the traditional sense would work well with my lifestyle. It would be way too much daily pressure.

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist and publisher—a huge thank you to TLC Book Tours and Montlake Romance!
Giveaway ends July 25th at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for the list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: Torn by Lauren Dane + Giveaway

Torn (Whiskey Sharp #3)
Lauren Dane
from HQN // Harlequin

Sometimes what you find isn’t what you were searching for

Beau Petty has been searching his whole life. Searching for a place that fills all the empty spaces in him. Searching for a way to tame the restlessness. Searching for answers to the secret he’s never stopped trying to solve. What he wasn’t searching for was a woman to claim all of him, but when Cora Silvera walks back into his life, he’s ready to search out all the ways he can make her his.

Cora has spent her life as the family nurturer, taking care of others. But now she’s ready to pass that job on to someone else. It’s time to make some changes and live for herself. It’s in that moment that her former teenage crush reappears and the draw and the heat of their instant connection is like nothing either of them has experienced. He craves being around her. She accepts him, dark corners and all.

Beau thinks Cora’s had enough drama in her life. He wants to protect her from the secrets of his past, even if it means holding back the last pieces of himself. But Cora is no pushover and she means to claim all those pieces.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peek: The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan + Giveaway (US/Can)

The Summer List
Amy Mason Doan
from Graydon House // Harlequin

In the tradition of Judy Blume’s Summer Sisters, The Summer List is a tender yet tantalizing novel about two friends, the summer night they fell apart, and the scavenger hunt that reunites them decades later—until the clues expose a breathtaking secret that just might shatter them once and for all.

Laura and Casey were once inseparable: as they floated on their backs in the sunlit lake, as they dreamed about the future under starry skies, and as they teamed up for the wild scavenger hunts in their small California lakeside town. Until one summer night, when a shocking betrayal sent Laura running through the pines, down the dock, and into a new life, leaving Casey and a first love in her wake.

But the past is impossible to escape, and now, after seventeen years away, Laura is pulled home and into a reunion with Casey she can’t resist—one last scavenger hunt. With a twist: this time, the list of clues leads to the settings of their most cherished summer memories. From glistening Jade Cove to the vintage skating rink, each step they take becomes a bittersweet reminder of the friendship they once shared. But just as the game brings Laura and Casey back together, the clues unravel a stunning secret that threatens to tear them apart...

Mesmerizing and unforgettable, Amy Mason Doan’s The Summer List is about losing and recapturing the person who understands you best—and the unbreakable bonds of girlhood.